Rocket League

Watch on YouTube Rocket League is an odd game.

Not that it's odd to play -- once you get into it, the fact that you're driving around in a rocket powered car pushing around a soccer ball barely even occurs to you. You pick up boosts, jump through the air, and smack the ball into the goal, while defending those who would put it in your own. And of course, the game isn't just odd because of the gameplay; the environments can be strange, from a soccer field on a space base to an underwater arena.

But the primary thing that struck me -- both in the early days of watching Rocket League on YouTube Gaming in September of 2015, and when I purchased the game more recently -- is how really enticing the environments and graphics are. From the squeak of the basketball court in Hoops mode, to the scraping of the puck along the ice in the hockey mode.

When I started watching Rocket League on YouTube Gaming, I noted to myself and others that Rocket League was one of the games out there -- like Splatoon -- that seemed extremely difficult to encode. Fast-paced, with tons of detailed textures, explosions, and more, it's a difficult game to encode with traditional encoding tools at internet-capable bitrates, so the experience is sometimes negatively affected by the experience of seeing tons of blocky details everywhere.

After purchasing the game -- I stand by this. Playing the game locally is a very different experience than watching it on a stream, precisely because of the limitations of encoding. It's a truly lovely game to look at when played locally.

Rocket League continues to offer more modes as free DLC. In addition to the Hoops, which is basketball based, and Snow Day, which is hockey based -- there's also a battle mode, and a "drop the ball through the floor" mode, where you have to hit the ball at the ground in order to score points. With dozens of different arenas to play in, with features like different layouts, as well as more complex goal arrangements like the two-goals map, there's a ton of variety available over what a typical soccer game might have.

The casual online play is reasonable; most players are pretty supportive, though there's always a risk of some bad interactions. The game does let you disable chat -- either disabling non-canned messages, or all messages -- which can eliminate the visibility of these negative interactions.

The game features paid DLC -- fancier cars like the Delorean from Back to the Future, or tie-ins like Fast and the Furious 8. But paid DLC is only for fun, not for features; and the game constantly rewards you with smaller items that you can use in place. (Including, importantly for me, a propeller beanie 'topper' -- meaning my Rocket League car wears a propeller hat just like I do.)

Rocket League is fun to play. Its beautiful environments, and playful cars -- including DLC and base models -- create a fun environment to play in. The game has sufficient variety to have a lot of replayability. This game is well worth the $20 purchase price on Steam and I can highly recommend it if you have any enjoyment of action games.